Photo Credit: Amie Schroeder Photography
This week I was fortunate enough to interview owner and creative director of Rustic Charm-Vintage Styled Events & Rentals, Erica! Rustic Charm is located in New Jersey but is willing to work just about anywhere! Erica and her mother work together, searching high and low for beautifully unique pieces to add an element of surprise to your special event. Yup, her job sounds like a dream! Rustic Charm has even decorated for outdoor weddings! Read this interview and check out their website for more inspiration!
1. What is the best way to personalize an outdoor space?
Our goal at Rustic Charm – Vintage Styled Event and Rentals is to make every event of photo shoot a one-and-only. When our clients come to us to rent our props and furniture it’s up to their creative discretion to make the effects and outcome what they dream up. On the other hand, when we are selected as a prop and styling resource for events, we have honed our approach to take a styled event to the next level – especially where it concerns an outdoor space. For our team, we start with two approaches. First, it’s important to do a walk-through of a space, whether indoor or out, to get an idea of how many pieces you’ll need to achieve all the elements that go into a styled event. Secondly, when possible we like to do at least one sit down meeting with our clients to develop an understanding of their personalities – this aids us in making an event more personalized and unique. It really comes down to what the event is about and who or what is being celebrated. From there, it goes beyond the furniture and props, to even the smallest of details. For example, if we know that a couple is celebrating their anniversary, we make sure to incorporate components of their life together in what we display. There are so many moving parts to this, but the best way to personalize a space is to make it truly inventive and unique to the individuals. On the other hand, if we are doing a commercial photo shoot and the sky is the limit for décor, then we try to garner inspiration from something personal to us, for example, a “Father of the Bride” at home soiree, or woodland themed tea party inspired by Alice in Wonderland. The options are limitless!
2. How can you make an outdoor space cozy while taking advantage of the openness of the outdoors?
One of my favorite spaces to decorate is an outdoor space. To make an outdoor space cozy in combination with the elements and openness of the outdoors, it’s important to keep in mind the logistics and the amount of literal ground you have to cover with furniture and décor. For example, a very large open outdoor space is going to require the incorporation of bigger pieces to pull everything together, such as a larger sized dresser, or at the very least a variety of smaller props that will bring everything together in harmony. The trick isn’t to overcompensate; as you don’t want the props competing with the natural elements of what’s outdoors, the purpose is to compliment what is already there. At Rustic Charm, our preference is to style with repurposed, more natural pieces. A great way to take advantage of an outdoor canvas is to combine it with the comforts of what one might find inside of a home – this establishes a balanced, relaxed look and feel, and often times is exactly what our clients hope to achieve.
3. What is the shopping process like?
Our goal is to present unique and timeless pieces to our clients. When sourcing props for Rustic Charm – nowhere is off limits. We simply love the hunt! Often times when searching for our vintage props and accessories, we find hidden gems in the most unexpected places. At times we venture across borders, out of state doing style searches – scavenging small and large flea markets, auctions, estate sales, and small antique shops off the beaten path. It’s often the overlooked places where we scoop up the best deals and rarest pieces. For our team, it comes down to making a real connection with people, sellers and dealers – the majority of those we share our business story with are more than happy to share insider secrets and tips with us, and also the places they love to hunt for a great find. It all comes down to staying informed, a lot of research, countless road trips, and hours and hours of scouring high and low places for that one, amazing piece. As we continue to build our collection, it’s been important to keep track of everything and then deliver it in a way that clients can easily browse our offerings – therefore, we are currently in the process of updating our site so that each piece in our inventory has its own name and a catalog code for clients to easily select from.
4. What is one of your favorite pieces you have collected?
One of my favorite pieces, which also happens to be one of the first pieces I bought for Rustic Charm, is a vintage black typewriter. I discovered it one afternoon at an antique shop; it was hidden underneath an old cupboard – a writer by trade I was immediately intrigued by this piece and thoughts of who once used it. How many hours were spent bent over it – did someone use it to write letters? To pen love notes to someone? Was it used just for business memos? These questions piqued my attention further – and I had to make it offer on it. I was thrilled that day to add it to our ever-budding collection. There are so many other props that I love and I will admit that one of the most difficult parts is not adding our business finds to our own homes – it can be very tempting at times, but we try to reserve ‘decorating to our heart’s content’ for our clients.
5. Where do you get most of your creative inspiration?
There are so many inspired possibilities for making special events truly distinctive. Honestly, my partner and I have always had a knack for decorating and styling spaces with unexpected pieces. We both strive to place hints of surprise in everything we stage – whether for a photo shoot or a more intimate gathering. It’s been so refreshing to see many people, including brides and photographers, turn away from the one-size-fits-all venue. Our inspirations come in many forms. For me, I often find myself flipping through a home catalog or design publication and a light bulb goes off with something creative I have to try – I’ll rip out one page out of an entire magazine because I get that a-ha moment. Another great tool of inspiration is simply being out and about scavenging for furniture and props – often times it’s when we are on a shopping excursion for new pieces that we’ll stumble upon something and think about how we could use it differently. A good example of this, we’ve taken old wooden ladders and between its slats laid a flat panel of wood to create a standing display table. Another tool of inspiration has been Pinterest; this creative resource is helpful for us to see what is “of the moment.” This gives us a heads up in terms of what is inundating the market or style pages, if you will, and then we’re able to head in the opposite direction. We like to march to our own stylistic beat and give our clients true, one-of-a-kind staging.
6. What is one of your favorite events you designed and decorated?
One of my favorite events that we designed and styled was a recent wedding in Chestnut Hill – near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Actually, I should start by saying this was one of my favorites because it was one of the most challenging events I’ve done to date. The venue that this particular bride and groom chose had a very limited amount of space to work off of in terms of decorating. And while I was able to visit the venue prior to the day-of the event, there was a wedding taking place at the time so I was unable to do my usual measuring and planning tactics during my initial on-site review. The day of the event, I brought with us everything and anything I thought we could possibly need to pull off every wish of this client, whose bohemian-inspired style requested a whimsical outdoor ceremony and reception. Taking into consideration her own personal style, we incorporated the natural outdoors with artistic emphasis on the ceremony. After countless hours of prepping, I’ve never been so satisfied with an event. As much as you prepare, there are always other factors, such as other vendor’s decisions, that can take you by surprise right when you’re down to the wire. In the end, we triumphed and the bride was overjoyed with the result. Sometimes the most challenging events, turn out to be the most rewarding.
7. What was your favorite decorative detail at your own wedding?
Wow, that’s a tough question as there were SO many elements of our wedding that I absolutely loved. If I had to choose one prop that meant a lot to me – it’d have to be the bible my mom (and co-founder of Rustic Charm) uncovered for our big day. This tattered bible from the 1500s made for a sentimental and perfect piece for our ring bearer, my nephew, to carry down the aisle. We wrapped it in twine as the binding had come loose over time and added a few pieces of grain — while it held a stylistic element, it also held so much meaning to both my husband and me as we exchanged our vows. Additionally, another favorite detail was this old shabby chic door that I had uncovered soon after we got engaged – we added a piece of vintage lace over the top of it and used it as a standalone prop in the reception area. This was one of many unique backdrops that we repurposed for our guests to enjoy while they mingled about and celebrated with us.
About Us: Rustic Charm – Vintage Styled Events & Rentals has created a stir by capturing the timeless simplicity and warmth of yesteryear. Every wedding, event and professional photo shoot is as unique as the clients who come to us. For those seeking event décor and prop resources through our array of inventory of casual chic furniture, vintage props and accessories, we supply rare and quality vintage pieces to those hoping to achieve a one-of-a-kind casual-chic setting. Through our ever-growing collection, we put an original and inviting atmosphere on display.